We always want to have user friendly and handy experience when it comes to use mobile apps. Website links inside mobile app is one of the areas of concern for everyone. Today it works in two ways. In one case it will display you an irritating prompt to choose browser to open web link you clicked on. And even sometimes users skip to access the link just to avoid context switch to browser. While in another case, app developers create their own experience by embedding ‘Web View’ while building their app. This will help in opening website links inside the same app.
Dave Berg at Google IO said “Web Views are Powerful but they also have downsides”.
What happens when developers work with Web Views for their apps?
They are simply building a browser along with their app. Well this is definitely a complex and time consuming thing and you also have to care about security issues when you build a browser.
As a user we feel ‘Web Views’ inside app is great because you don’t have to make switch to another browser for accessing website links. But we are missing something that makes our life easier while using a web browser. Any guesses? Saved password and logged in sessions.
So ‘Chrome Custom Tab’ is a new feature in Android M which give developers a way to use all of the Google Chrome capabilities inside your app while still keep the control of look and feel of user experience. Now you have access to your saved passwords, logged in sessions and auto-filling form, from your Chrome browser. And the best part is you will also get Chrome security model within your app, which really solves a complex job for a developer.
Let’s make this clear with working example of Pinterest. In this, if you tap on a web link, you can see there is a transition into Chrome custom tabs. Remember, now it is your Chrome browser running on top your Pinterest app. In this, Pinterest has also added a custom button on toolbar to ‘Pin’ pages. You can think of adding such customisations when you will use Custom Chrome Tabs for your app. Now you are already given a option to choose a custom toolbar color and enter-exit animations. Also, you can add additional items in Chrome’s overflow menu. You can also see a ‘back’ button in Pinterest app, which gets you back into the app. You will also notice that Chrome Custom Tabs are fast to load because Pinterest is able to ask chrome ahead of time to prefetch the content.
I will say it is definitely good for users, and developers are always happy in user’s benefit.
Chrome Custom tabs is available on Chrome Dev Channel.